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Setting up a Commercial Kitchen

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am currently starting the process of turning my home kitchen into a Commercial kitchen. I'm going to have a take-out food biz out of my home. I need to purchase the following:

Range: I think I would prefer Dual fuel because every gas oven I have worked with are uneven and don't hold the correct temps. They are pretty expensive though. Why are most commercial range's all gas? Does anyone LOVE their gas oven? I need 6 burner's for sure and I'll be grilling outdoors so no grill needed. Maybe a salamander-although what are they most used for, browning and melting cheese? I've never worked in a kitchen with one and if I have 2 ovens, I should be able to use the broiler, correct? I will have food warmers so I won't really need the ovens during service.

Refrigerator: What brand do you recommend? My kitchen is fairly small and so I'm looking for one without compressor's that are loud and conduct a lot of heat. Are refrigerators okay to buy used or should I go with a new one? I know in WA they have to stay below 41 degrees now too.

Any recommendations for me? (I saw a thread on this but it was very outdated so I thought I would start a new one.)

post #2 of 21
You've asked for a lot of information, maybe more than you really want to hear.

1st, setting up a 'commercial' kitchen can't necessarily be done in a home. Depending upon your local govt. requirements, typically a home cannot be used as a commercial food preparation area unless it is separated from the house. You need to check into your local areas codes.

2nd. A commercial range has a very high BTU output and usually requires ventilation. Most codes require a ventilation hood for any open flame, extending 6" beyond the edge of the edge of the range. Gas is the most popular because the heat is instant on and instant off. Unlike electric, which takes eons to get hot, and stays hot long after you turn it off.

3rd. Your oven doesn't need to gas, electric is good, it just takes longer to heat, but it doesn't put out as much secondary heat as a gas oven does. Another advantage to electric is it doesn't require as much ventilation as gas, since it doesn't generate carbon monoxide. Another reason proper ventilation is required for gas equipment (exhaust and makeup).

4th. A broiler/salamander is effective for finishing an item being cooked, and/or browning. They put out a ton of heat. Don't confuse these with 'cheese melters' which are scaled down versions of broilers.

5th. Refrigeration isn't about cooling, it is the process of moving heat. If you want one area cool, the heat has to be removed and expelled elsewhere. If you have a self contained refrigerator, (one unit with compressor and condenser) expect it to expel a lot of heat. Period. The heavier duty the refrigerator is, the more heat it will expel. If you don't want the heat, you will need to invest in a refrigerator with a remote condenser. It is expensive, but much quieter (although you will hear the compressor), but the heat will be expelled outside.

I have a restaurant in Southwest Louisiana, and if I ever replace any of my larger refrigerators, I will not hesitate to pay extra for a remote condenser. I did that with the ice machine I bought last year. I paid a lot more for the extra equipment and install, but I will save the extra heat load I don't have to cool in my kitchen.

Along with the commercial equipment, you need to have an electrician to make sure you have the right setup to handle the electrical load.

What you're talking about is major, much more than you realize and local codes may not allow you to do what you're attempting to do. If you're just wanting to have a place to do catering on the side, you can get away with a home setup (not necessarily legal, but you can bring in money to eventually buy/rent a proper setup.)

Good Luck.
post #3 of 21
Bread meister took the words right out of my mouth...

Biggest single cost for any commercial kitchen is the ventilation. Yeah, yeah the hood, it's just a hunk of s/s, but you need the fire rated ducting, the extraction fans. And what you remove--air, you have to replace, so you'll need a make-up air system too. Of course this whole system has to be signed off by a licensed mechanical engineer before you can submit it to City hall. And then you'll also need a fire supression system too, and depending on the municipality, a min of a 55 gallon grease trap, and hand wash sinks and approved method of washing/sanitizing dishes and cookware, and. ...

In photograhy, darkness is the absence of light, in refrigeration cold is the absence of heat. What the compressor and cooil are doing is removing heat, and they have to put it somewhere. Where you put the heat will either cost you money in airconditioning costs and staff comfort, or save you money, by thinking that the heat is not a waste product of refrigeration, but a by-product, that should be utilized
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #4 of 21
Beginning to have to deal with this myself.
I cannot disagree with these guy because they are right.
You are right, too. Washington will not let you get away with much. All of our walk-ins will need to be replaced because of their walls. Fire code is strict. All walls (as is my understanding) have to have a stamp on them telling that they are approved. Apparently, just having one approval stamp on one wall of the walk-in package you purchase isn't enough. Definately check with not just the city but the fire department as well.
You're in Washington? The heat that a condeser on top of the refrigeration unit may not be detrimental. On the contrary, it may make it more convenient to proof dough. But do consider the heat of the summer.

If you were just asking about sandwich prep or under counter units, then i may be able to help...
We just bought five prep units in August (because of Washington state's new refrigeration rules... urg). I could write pages of compaining, but i won't.
I did a bit of research before purchasing units; this is what i found.

1.) "True" seems to be the 'universal' brand that major purveyors carry.

2.) Purveyors seem to have their 'own' brand that they want you to buy (usually cheaper).

3.) Everyone wants your money.

My purveyor pushed 'CONTINENTAL'. i went with that brand.
problems: one of the units went down, called them, they fixed it (our fault)
same unit went down later (less than 2 months), called support, the guy on the other line had me running aroud trying to tell me that it was MY fault: electrician said 'no', it's the unit's fault...
i was LIVID about the fact that we had just spent $25 grand or so on his products and he was trying to put it on me/ wasn't taking the responsibility for the unit's faults...
I had to hand it off to the GM; i was BEYOND pissed.
we'll never use them again, but they seem to be pretty solid units.

To the point, i trust 'True'. Used? You'll pay half as much. Maybe spend money to fix it after a time, depends on the unit and its use.
Next time, i'll go with 'true' units.
If your looking for some info, i've found this site a good way place to start:
Best in Class 2006: Head of the Class
sorry for the rant.
post #5 of 21
Try and avoid used refrigeration if at all possible. The gasses that are used come and go, R-12 is now highly illegal, and many newer gasses are being replaced.
What you store in the fridge makes a huge difference too. Stuff like vinegar, salad dressings, tomato products and spicy foods will eventually corrode the coil, causing gas leaks. So will yeast, and many bakers have rotted out their fridge guts by storing yeast risen doughs inside. The more expensive fridges have copper or s/s coils, but the aluminum coils are still very popular and highly prone to corrosion by the above mentioned foods.

If you think I'm pulling a fast one on you, I'm not--check with a refrigeration/HVAC repair guy next time.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Wow. Thank you for all the information! I did not know about remote condensor's- I will look into that, nor did I know about the type of coils used in refrigeration! I will be doing SW cuisine so lots of spices indeed. Also, great info about the hood having to extend 6" over the edge of the range, another thing I didn't know!

I have the "OK" from the city, and health dept because I will set up a very small kitchen in another room for our personal use and our house is in a commercial zone. I am still figuring out all the requirements for the hood and I hadn't thought of calling the local fire dept. I am going to go with a residential range instead of a commerical one since they are insulated. I'm looking into the "American Residential" range, all gas. Duel fuel is just so much more expensive and I'm not sure that I really "need" one, I just wanted one I guess. My health inspector OK'd the use of a residental range and hood since I will not be dealing with much grease. I do still have to make sure it's okay with the city though. I am in a very small town of 1000 people so we get away with more than big cities do in WA State. I found a 1 year old Beverage Air Double Door refrigerator for 1600 that sounds like a good deal but I will noe check what kind of "coils" it has, hopefully not aluminum!

Thanks again for all of your comments! This has helped a ton!
post #7 of 21

review of commercial ovens

I am setting up a commercial kitchen and need to pick a single deck convection oven. I have used Southbend, Vulcan, and Garland before but have not used Bakers Pride. Price is an issue so the Vulcan and Garland (understandably the better brands) may be too expensive. Any thoughts as to the other brands from people who have first hand experience? Do you regret a Southbend purchase over spending a little extra on Garland?
post #8 of 21

All great practical advice, folks. One thing that stands out in my mind that I didn't see mentioned is in reference to your salamander question. That's a simple business issue. From my experience, if you question the use of a piece of equipment, you can most certainly do without it. I would start without it and if you feel that your needs require one you can always install it at a later date. Salamanders are generally installed directly under/from the vent hood or mounted over the flat top/range and would not be difficult to add on. (never skimp on ventilation, kitchen equipment projects tons of heat, exhaust, and airborne grease!). We are adding one to our kitchen now and I'm hoping it is as simple as I just described. Good luck!

post #9 of 21

Blodgett.  Still has the best warranty on chasis and doors.  Look at the mnfctr's warranties and pick the one with the best and longest warranty, then see if there is a dealer in your area who carries it.  If there isn't, don't go with that brand. 


Haven't used Baker's Pride for that reason, for the longest time there wasn't a dealer who would stock it.  Not becasue of the quality--from what I understand it is an excellent brand--but because at the time all orders went through a CDN regional agent who took his cut before the order could get sent to the States.  No dealer would touch it.  Things have changed condsiderably now though.....

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #10 of 21


I've purchased dozens of coolers over the years.

This is just my own opinion but I feel that Bev air is poor quality and is not worth buying.


post #11 of 21


I used to post as Bbay.

Blast from the past.


Nice to know a 3 year old post is still relevant.

Any other forum would swarm negative comments on a bump on a topic this old.


Tried a Randall unit as a test.  I was told it was the Cadillac of prep cooling units.

Didn't impress me.

Still going with True because the parts seem to be carried by the majority of refrigeration repairmen locally.


Salamanders are a waste of money, IMO.

Always been the least used piece of equipment in the kitchens I've worked in.

It's like a gas range burner that you just leave on all the time...  wasting gas... a place to hold hot dishes that you fired too soon, a place to flash the blood out of that "well done" steak.

post #12 of 21

Name recognition will no longer guarantee and better product or product line.

In years past 20 years ago +  the big names Hobart, Garland, Frymaster, Pitco, southbend, Bakers Pride, Blodgett

-they owned the market.  Like american Auto manufacturers they fell into the trap of sitting on their Laurels, charging top Dollar

for their product, yet lacking realsitic product improvements.  Over the past 10-12 years younger, technologically advanced and customer driven

companies have zipped past the old dogs-without making the same pricing presumptions.

I do not believe you can say (anylonger) that Garland and Vulcan are industry leaders----except in price.

Imperial has a very good, heavy duty product line.  I have their 6 burner range (I can stand on the open door with No Ill effects (I weigh 200#)

I have their fryer which is built like a tank-Very pleased with both and yes I used to buy only the big names.

Everyone has the same warranty-so I have learned to look at the weight of comparable pieces to differentiate quality-more weight = more strongly built.

I also always compare BTU's-Btu's will equal pre-heat time and recovery rate of a piece.

Suggest you don't get caught up in a name-Look further in your comparisons.

Yes there some worthless pieces of crap out there-touted as an economy piece-Under powered and Under weight-but there are far more quality

manufacturer's on the market than ever before.

post #13 of 21

 Hi Jen,


What is the outcome of your commercial kitchen setup in your home?  A commercial kitchen is what I  now need for further growth of my gourmet pound cake business.  unfortunately, I  cannot  afford the kind of  comercial kitchen renovations  needed.  It would be great to lease a commercial kitchen space, good luck to you!


ms. p

post #14 of 21

I am setting up a Creperie that will be serving Crepes, Panini and Gelato. My question is; do you have to have a commercial restaurant hood installed to be serving Panini and Crepes?





post #15 of 21

All depends on your local municipality--check with them.


Every municiplaity has variations on fire, helath, plumbing, etc. codes.


No "one size fits all".

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #16 of 21

hello,   can anyone recommend a hood installation co?  i need a 14' hood.  soooo much to do, i am soooo overwhelmed!  i dont know where to start!  

post #17 of 21

It might help a titch if you let others know where you are.  ;)



I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
post #18 of 21

where are you located?

post #19 of 21
Don't buy anything until you have a quote on the exhaust hood.
I am new here. I have designed fabricated and installed many kitchen exhaust systems.
The grease hood system is always an expense that is overlooked.
Don't start buying equipment until you have a total cost!!!
I have seen hundreds of restaurants come and go.
I was good at predicting which ones would make it, but that was a decade ago and the market has changed.
One thing i am sure has not changed is that you need a good plan before you spend a nickle.
post #20 of 21

Plans generally take into account the dates that things were posted.


In this case - you are in luck ... your information is from a decade ago and so is this thread!





"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold





"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold


post #21 of 21

click the link for brands of commercial kitchens!

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